The SDGs and Food Security: Balancing Goals

The United Nations will adopt 17 proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September as part of the post-2015 Development Agenda. However, as UN member states and other stakeholders prepare to reach a consensus on the world’s development priorities for the next 15 years, the importance of targeted interventions across all goals, especially food and nutrition security, is of critical importance.

The SDGs grew out of a nearly 2-year long process beginning with the establishment of a 30+ member Open Working Group (OWG) in January of 2013. The OWG model developed a set of goals meant to be inclusive, universal, and comprehensive, bumping up the Millennium Development Goals’ broad targets to a total of 169 targets.

The UN must advocate for the legitimacy of the SDG agenda as an advanced and improved agenda, different from but complementary to the MDGs. Goal 2, to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture,” is one of the broadest goals proposed by the OWG. Specificity and accuracy is the most important in implementing this goal. Agricultural development interventions are often well-intended but poorly executed, and a lack of local knowledge and capacity-building ends up distorting markets and disadvantaging farmers across the world. Continue reading

Global Development Forum: Workforce Development Preview

The International Labor Organization estimates that 73.4 million youth were unemployed in 2013, and that youth were three times more susceptible to unemployment than adults. As a result, the role of formal education and training of youth in its influence on the quality and development of the workforce demands urgent attention. Private sector investment, alignment of employment skills, as well as education programs that feed into social stability will play integral roles in creating a more employable youth population and a fortified workforce.

World Youth Day will be celebrated in Krakow, Poland this year.

World Youth Day will be celebrated in Krakow, Poland this year.

Why should the private sector invest?

In 2013, nearly 300 million young people were not in education, employment, or training (NEET). The private sector has a role to play in supporting employment-focused education, but investment in this space should be driven by self-interest—effective workforce development will result in higher profitability in the long run by increasing the overall capability, quality, and efficiency of the workforce. Keeping in mind the relative strengths of both the public and private sectors, there is a clear window to create shared value, allowing both business and communities to jointly prosper. Through increased public-private partnerships and supply of skills training programs, the private sector can offer input where the public sector is unable to through deeper social investment. By financing recruitment, promotion and training, the private sector can better link business and social interests. Moreover, it can make youth more employable by aiding with the management of Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) programs, lowering or removing barriers to entry for disadvantaged students, and alleviating other social obstacles faced by youth in need of further education. Continue reading

Global Development Forum: Financing for Development Preview

In July 2015, heads of state, finance ministers, foreign ministers, and ministers for development cooperation will gather in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the third United Nations International Conference on Financing for Development. The Addis Conference seeks to identify funds to support the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This conference will be fundamentally different from earlier FfD conferences held in Monterrey in 2002 and Doha in 2008. In 1980 low and middle income countries received $32 billion of ODA and $7.6 billion of FDI, but by 2013 those countries received $133 billion of ODA and $735 billion of FDI.  As global incomes rise, emerging donors have taken on a much greater role in development. Developing countries’ themselves have gained a greater ability to finance their own development as private sector economic activity in the developing world continues to grow. Below we have outlined some of the ways development finance has changed to respond to a new set of challenges and development realities.

The UN will host the third Financing for Development Conference in July

The UN will host the third Financing for Development Conference this July in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

A New Role for Traditional Donors

While ODA and traditional development financing remain important catalysts for development, donors that were once the main sources of financing for developing countries increasingly find themselves playing a complementary rather than unilateral role. Private financial flows have increased rapidly and ODA and public funding for donor organizations have increased at a more limited rate. As a result, traditional donors are finding new ways to leverage their funds to create maximum impact, often through encouraging private sector growth. Continue reading

Advancing an Evidence-Based Agenda for the World’s Young Women and Girls (and Boys!)

By Dr. Nicole Goldin

Last month at the United Nations, as Women’s History Month was drawing to a close, Intergovernmental negotiations continued toward a post-2015 framework to follow the expiring Millennium Development Goals with a focus on goals, targets and indicators. Promoting gender equality remained one of the top priorities.

Of the world’s approximately 3.6 million women and girls, nearly 1 million are adolescents and youth. They are part of the largest youth generation in human history, an estimated 85% of which lives in developing countries or fragile states.

Adolescent and young women are often at a bigger disadvantage in getting an education, finding political space and leadership, or financial inclusion; are more vulnerable to trafficking or gender-based violence; and have unmet needs in sexual and reproductive health. Similarly, though young men and boys face are often worse off, for example with tobacco or drug use, traffic accidents, or interpersonal violence, the female experience has been markedly more difficult among many of the common challenges facing youth such as the unemployment crisis or continued spread of HIV.

Unfortunately, however, far too many adolescent girls and young women have historically suffered in silence. They haven’t necessarily found their place on the global agenda. A lack of resources, lack of voice, lack of information, and lack of empowerment has sidelined their needs and aspirations despite how important their success is to promoting families and securing a demographic prosperity and peace dividend. Continue reading